In a long, defiant and fiery exit speech, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu listed his achievements of twelve years in office, derided the incoming government, and promised to return to power soon.
Ahead of the Knesset vote to confirm the new ministers on Sunday, Netanyahu ticked off his successes as prime minister, including the covid vaccination drive, the Abraham Accords, transfer of the U.S. embassy to Yerushalayim, recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the Golan, a thriving economy, construction of new roads, railways and the overall improvement of the quality of life in the country.
He said that the government oversaw “courageous” operations behind enemy lines to keep Israel safe, likely a reference to the Mossad’s operations to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
The accomplishments, he said, turned Israel from a “marginal state” into a leading country.
In the second half of his speech, addressing Israel’s enemies along with his political opponents, he promised (in English): “We’ll be back! We’ll be back very soon!”
“You won’t silence” the Likud voters, the chareidim and the right, “and you won’t silence me,” he warned, adding that he and his family have been the victim of unprecedented “incitement” and defamation.
Netanyahu reminded the plenum that he’s returned to power from the opposition twice before. And each time, he said, his governments had been “forced” to correct the previous governments’ economic policies, and will do the same in the future.
Netanyahu said that after hearing Bennett talk tough about Iran in his speech shortly before, he was even more worried, since “Bennett always does the opposite of what he said.”
He excoriated Bennett for pledging publicly and in writing that he would not sit in a coalition with Yair Lapid under any circumstances, and reiterated his denunciation of the coalition as the biggest fraud in Israeli history, as Bennett deceived people into voting for him, thinking they were voting for a right-wing government.
“The public won’t forget this tremendous fraud,” said Netanyahu, though the media will praise Bennett because they know “Bennett and his allies are ‘fake right.’”
Bennett, he charged, will not be able to handle the challenges that Israel faces. “He doesn’t have the global standing. He doesn’t have the credibility. He doesn’t have the ability and he doesn’t” have the support of his own divided government.
Netanyahu mocked Bennett’s pledges to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, saying the Yamina leader has shown he doesn’t keep his promises. Bennett will “fight Iran like he won’t sit” in a government with Lapid and other left-wing parties.
“The prime minister of Israel must be able to say no to the American government” on issues that threaten Israel,” says Netanyahu, adding that Bennett won’t be able to withstand the pressure.
“Who will do this now?”
The prime minister disclosed that the Biden administration asked him not to speak publicly about their differences on the Iran nuclear deal. But Netanyahu said he won’t be silent in the face of the “existential threat.”
He said that he would go to the opposition proudly and would work to topple this “dangerous government.”
“It was my honor to work night and day—literally night and day—for our beloved country,” said Netanyahu.